Nightime Hiking

Hiking at night is a completely different experience from hiking during the day. Even when you’ve got a bright moon or a good flashlight, you should plan to travel more slowly, since visibility will be lessened.

That doesn’t mean that nighttime hikes are less wonderful than daytime ones. Look at the advantages:

  • In summer, they’re a great way to take advantage of cooler temperatures.
  • On popular trails, they can be more peaceful and less public.
  • They’re kind of romantic, with the right companion, or at least conducive to deeper conversations.

The scents are different at night, as night-blooming plants open and mists rise. There’s also different stuff to see when you’re on a nighttime hike. Go to Google Sky to scope out the stars ahead of time so you can recognize them , or download Starmap for your smartphone.

You might also see more wildlife. That can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the area you’re in. We’ve heard reports of bears locally, so you might want to grab a Bear Bell at Uncle Sam’s before you head out. Look where you’re going so you don’t step on a snake — they won’t stalk you and bight you on purpose, but they can be livelier in cooler night temperatures, so you might want to carry a snake bite kit in case you disturb one. Definitely pick up some insect repellent, since mosquitoes love the night life and love to boogie up and suck your blood.

While you’re preparing for things, remember that grass is likely to get damp at night, so you may want something to sit on for rests. Carry water; filters are great for daytime use, but you don’t need to be searching for water in the dark and possibly sliding or falling. In fact, you might prefer to carry a hot drink in a thermal flask instead of or in addition to water.

If you plan on a long hike, carry snacks, too, or something to fix for breakfast. You don’t usually eat during the night, because you’re asleep. If you’re hiking, your body will expect sustenance on the same kind of schedule it likes during daytime hikes. It’s fun to plan an all night hike that finishes up near a good place to cook or buy breakfast.

Finally, take your first night hike in a familiar area. Not only are you more likely to fall or get lost in the dark, but you’re less likely to find people to help you if you need help. Your favorite hiking trails will seem new in the night time, and once you’ve hiked them all at night, you’ll be experienced enough to branch out to new places.

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